Aamber Pegasus

Aamber Pegasus

The Aamber Pegasus is a somewhat elusive beast. First produced in New Zealand in 1981, it was the first kit computer developed & sold within the nation.

The hardware was designed by the late Stewart J Holmes and the software by Paul Gillingwater (who now works in Austria for a company known as Lanifex).

The machine is based around the Motorola MC6809C CPU. Earlier machines came with 4k of RAM and later with 64k. Input is from a QWERTY style key-matrix keyboard. Output is to a TV via an RF modulator. See comments for more details.

I have got a ROM for Forth A, Forth B and Mon installed. I've never been able to power the machine up, but I've contacted Paul and he's going to send me the PSU specs at some point.

I found this little gem of NZ history at a refuse transfer station and payed $5 NZ (about $3 US) for it.

Update 20/07/07

The Pegasus gets a mention on the WLUG wiki and Philip's site now has a little more info.

Update 2014-05-06

A little over a decade since I made this post and Philip's website has changed URLs, M.E.S.S now emulates this machine, there's the beginning of a Wikipedia page and to top it off some great footage of the machine actually running is available on Philip's YouTube channel.

Photo gallery:
Aamber Pegasus - Lump of puttyAamber Pegasus - EPROMsAamber Pegasus - Motherboard TopAamber Pegasus - Unknown phono jacksAamber Pegasus - ModulatorAamber Pegasus - KeyboardAamber Pegasus - Motherboard UndersideAamber Pegasus - In Situ

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Flexing board?

Is it an optical illusion, or is that board flexing?

Ex-parrot's picture

Yep....

Yeah.... it is.... in what could only be described as a "slightly worrying" way. The case is ever so slightly too narrow, but I can only assume it's always been like that.

I leave for a few weeks and Applefritter.com becomes a Mondrian.... typical Tongue

Some answers

Nice to see the Aamber Pegasus on show.

The hardware was designed by Stewart J Holmes - sad to hear he passed away - I didn't know that he had.

The basic system came with 4k RAM, and later versions had 64K RAM.
There was an optional rotating switch that allowed you to select one of up to 6 language environments from 12 different eproms - there was Xtended basic, Pascal, Tiny Basic, MAD (assembler) and Forth.

I wrote the Tiny Basic interpreter for the Aamber Pegasus - in 6809 assembler.

I still have my machine -it's in working order. I also have the original SWTPC 6809 system that was used to develop and test the software for the Pegasus - also in working order. I also have much of the original hardware and software documentation.

If you need anything, let me know.

We had some real fun times at Technosys back then - e.g. to demonstrate the Tiny Basic interpreter, I invented and wrote a version of snakes where the snake grows by eating a block - it was different from versions of snake/worms that existed back then, where you simply had to avoid obstacles. The growing version is the version that you can now find on cell-phones and all-round the net. I sent it to Paul G. and got a shock 2 days later when many of the folks at Technosys (the firm that developed the Pegasus) were crowded around a Pegasus and betting real money on snakes ! To my delight, when snakes was installed on the demonstration Pegasus in the Byte Shop in down-town Auckland, people were queing to play snakes on the Pegasus and were ignoring all the much more fancy games and computers.

I have very fond memories of those hectic and very fulfilling days at Technosys, and it's great to see the Aamber Pegasus given some recognition !

Aamber Pegasus

I'm too the proud owner of one of these beasts! My first real computer. I first programmed, hand assembled code on 6502 micros but soon got used to the 6809. I totally dissassambled the monitor code to find out how it all worked. I wrote a program to print to a golfball selectric teletype so I could print the contents of my 12k file on tape that was the extended BASIC. I built up a board with 6116 2k ram chips to take the place of the eproms so I could load any program into the same address space. My only worry is whether the files will load the next time! I reverse engineered the 'black blob' to disable the protection scheme. If anyone has documentation about the board etc I would love to see it. Maybe we could swap notes?
I'm keen on hearing from anyone who still has one of these computers.

All the best...

Ex-parrot's picture

I gave mine away to a an ex-p

I gave mine away to a an ex-pat NZer whose AIM name is "Namachari". He's living in Japan now and just recently built a Replica 1 as well. I think he's a forums member here at AF.

Ex-Parrot did indeed hand thi

Ex-Parrot did indeed hand this computer on to me. I used to have one when I was a young boy (14). My next door neighbor was involved with the company before it disappeared and he gave me one of his spare machines. I have very fond memories of it. Mine used to live in an original Aamber Pegasus suitcase style enclosure.

I'm working remotely with cooldad (see above), he has kindly offer to help me fix this machine. So far I have built a new PSU for it, but the computer fails to work. I do get a strong video signal, which is always a good sign. Unfortunately it only displays a white screen.

I've also contacted Paul Carter (see above), he's one of the original software developers for the system, and he is attempting to crank up his old 6809 SWTP development system and backup the original pegasus ROMS. Hopefully then I can burn some new ROMS for this system.

Once I get it working (and I will get it working eventually), I will make a web page outlining the system.

Check out my other pages here:
http://web.mac.com/lord_philip/

Aamber Pegasus

This is also my first Computer at the age of 12. Some friends had the ZX Spectrum, or ZX81, Other PC's at school were TRS80's then later BBC.
But This Aamber Pegasus was definitely in a corner all of its own.
My machine had Mon, Word processor, Pascal, Forth, TBasic and XBasic. But not the assembler. I only had a few tapes with programs on them, but found out later on that the tape recorder I was it the tapes became very unreliable and in the end lost all of my programs.
I only had 4k so I could not create too much. I found that by creating programs via mon was the best way as it made me think twice as hard and I could squeeze a lot more into my applications. I create a Machine code version of the Character Creator, then had a smurfs Olympics game where you had to control the smurf over the 100 meter hurdles. I still have that code written down. But the best time was when I went through about 4k of operating system code and wrote it all out in a book, then went through it finding out where all the good bits happened, like input routines, tape load and save areas...
I still have all the manuals with wiring diagrams, but alas I have lost my suitcase machine some how. I think my mother threw it away a few years back. I still miss that black and white screen.
So I learnt 6809 machine code myself thanks to this beast, then later went on to learning 6502 on the BBC, writing programs in hex code was fun for a while. Anyone got a spare Pegasus floating around?

Ex-parrot's picture

As far as I'm aware, there is

As far as I'm aware, there is likely less than 10 of these machines still aroubd Sad Namachari may be able to comment further on the odds of getting one as his knowlege has vastly surpassed mine in recent years!

Hey ChrisD, please check yo

Hey ChrisD,
please check your Applefritter mail.

Aamber Pegasus emulation in M.E.S.S.

Recently I have had the pleasure to work with a M.E.S.S programmer (robbbert), and together (he did 99.9% of the work of course) we have completed a full emulation of the Aamber Pegasus 4k.

If you want to try it out for yourself you can get the latest build from here:

http://bobz38.free.fr/mess_autobuild/index.php

...and you will need the ROM images from links found on my site here:

http://www.neoncluster.com/

The monitor rom will need to go in a 'pegasus' folder inside a 'roms' folder. In the MESS app, under 'Properties' there is a 'Miscellaneous' tab. Under there there is a pull down menu called 'BIOS'. You can select all the Monitor versions from here. Some renaming of the actual files may be needed, but they can all exist in the roms/pegasus folder at the same time. this makes it very easy to change Monitor ROMs.

Other images can be loaded under the 'device' menu, and the emulator also has a virtual cassette implemented too.

There are still a couple of quirks that will hopefully be sorted out over the next few week.

You can read more about the Aamber pegasus on my page here:

http://www.neoncluster.com/

You can read a little about the emulators development on my blog here:

http://www.neoncluster.com/aamber_pegasus/Blog/Blog.html

Please take a look.

Philip